Custom Website vs. DIY Website: Which is better?

Today, many small businesses get a website up and running in one of two main ways. They either hire a web developer to build them a custom website or build their own website using one of the do-it-yourself platforms (such as Jimdo, Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, or GoDaddy Websites).

There’s no right method for every business. For some businesses, the right answer will be to hire a web developer to build a custom website to your specifications. For others, the right answer will be the do-it-yourself approach.

Which method you choose depends on a number of factors including your budget, needs, timing, and internal capabilities. Let’s take a look at pros and cons to help you choose the method of getting a website that’s right for your business.                                                         

Hiring a Website Developer

Hiring a web developer is often the choice of businesses that already have a website.  Businesses like this are usually looking to upgrade. They need more than a basic five-page website. Their website may have proven return on investment already. So these businesses see the value of investing in a better website.

Here are some advantages of a custom website:

  • Your website will be exactly what you want, to your specifications. It may include advanced functionality.
  • A professional does the work for you.
  • You have someone to contact for ongoing changes and fixes. Most development firms provide support on an hourly rate or fixed-fee basis.
  • Use your own domain name. This is important for credibility.

And here are some downsides of a custom website:

  • Cost is significantly higher than a DIY website. A typical custom website price starts at $2,000 — and can go into five figures.
  • You have to spend time communicating your needs to your developer. If this is your first website, identifying your needs could be harder than it sounds because there are many things you’ll be thinking about for the first time.
  • Your business is responsible for hosting, upkeep, and protecting your site from breaches. This can mean your business will incur ongoing costs and a bit of complexity.

Using a Do-it-Yourself Website Builder Tool

Building your own website using a DIY website builder platform is often the choice for startups and entrepreneurs getting their very first site. This method is also a good choice for businesses in a hurry — you can literally have a website live in a few hours. And for those on an extremely tight budget, the DIY method is ideal as the costs are spread out with a low monthly fee.

Here are some advantages of DIY websites:

  • You get professional designs. Most also have mobile templates or responsive designs that display well on all screen sizes.
  • Inexpensive! It’s possible to get a “free” website, although you should opt for a paid plan as it won’t have ads and you can use your own domain address. Paid plans typically run less than $30 a month.
  • Content can be updated instantly – you can even switch designs on the fly. Simply log on to your DIY dashboard and make changes. No need to put in a request to your developer.
  • Hosting, security, and software fixes are handled by the platform.

But before you decide, consider the downsides of DIY websites:

  • The limited customization available may not meet your needs. Usually you get a package with pre-determined features or a few à la carte add-ons.
  • The DIY approach is easy, but does require you to be hands on and takes time.
  • You may be limited to online help pages or email for support. Telephone support may cost extra — or may not be available.
  • If you stop using that particular DIY platform, you have to start over again somewhere else. You can’t take your site with you.

One final tip: try before you buy. Most DIY website builder platforms have a free plan or at least a free trial. It’s a good way to see if the DIY approach is for you.

written by: Anita Campbell, guest blogger for SBA